With the first half of the season behind us it’s time to evaluate some of the best individual performers of the 2014/15 season. While FC Bayern Munich have a commanding (and record-setting) lead atop the standings, there were a number of standout performers from teams throughout the league. Let’s take a look at the best eleven of the Hinrunde:
Manuel Neuer: This is not much of a surprise. The Ballon d’Or-nominated World Goalkeeper of the Year and World Cup winner has been the standout player in the net not only in Germany but arguably throughout Europe. If he didn’t wear the No. 1 on his back you’d easily mistake him for an outfield player. That’s normally where you’d find him nowadays with his team dominating their opponents so frequently. Neuer has played a significant part in Bayern’s record-setting defense in the Hinrunde, conceding just four goals in 17 games, and always came up big when called upon. #NeuerForBallonDor indeed.
Juan Bernat: Not exactly ideally suited to his position in our hypothetical formation but Bernat’s breakthrough season combined with Pep Guardiola’s tactical adaptability would do the trick. Bernat is one of the few players to have played in every single Bundesliga game this season. And for a reason. His stamina, workrate and sheer desire to break through an opposing defense have made him one of the most dangerous and consistent full-backs in Europe. A brilliant pick-up by Germany’s record champions and a suitable option to David Alaba, who should now feature more prominently in midfield with Bernat available.
Naldo: 50+ goals in the Bundesliga since his debut with Bremen in 2005, the Brazilian center-back is by far the most dangerous in his position in the league in the past decade. And he’s at it again this season with Wolfsburg, having scored 5 goals in the first half of the season in what has been the clubs’ best-ever Hinrunde in club history. Naldo is also the player with most shots on goal off corner situations which is remarkable in itself.
Jerome Boateng: Arguably the best player in the World Cup final, Boateng took his strong form in Brazil into the club season with Bayern. Boateng’s late match-winner against Manchester City in the Champions League was his most publicized moment this season but he has been the epitome of consistency in the league. He is a key part of Bayern’s historic defense and is often tasked with marking the opponent’s key attacking player out of the game.
Xabi Alonso: Quite possibly the standout player in the Bundesliga in the Hinrunde, Xabi Alonso has been an instant hit as soon as he landed in Germany. In the absence of so many key players at Bayern, Alonso has kept things together and his team on track for a historic first half of the season. The Spanish midfield maestro had a record 1846 touches in the Hinrunde, averaging an incredible 141 touches per game. He broke the record for most touches in a game this season and has been the glue in Guardiola’s side. At 32, Alonso may just be at the peak of his powers.
Zlatko Junuzovic: Who? Unless you’ve watched the Bundesliga in the last couple of years, you could easily gloss over the 27-year-old Austrian midfielder. But Junuzovic has been fantastic this season in a very inconsistent Bremen side that has gone from hot to cold on a weekly basis. Junuzovic has scored some of the best goals of the Hinrunde from free kicks along with 8 assists for his teammates all while playing in numerous positions. A very underrated but tremendously consistent and important player, as Travis Timmons outlined earlier this year.
Kevin De Bruyne: Unassuming at first glance, the pale-faced, light-haired Belgian could kill a defense with a single touch. Within seconds, De Bruyne creates dangerous situations out of seemingly nothing. This season, De Bruyne has been at the heart of Wolfsburg’s impressive campaign and also leads the league in assists. Dynamic, creative and a goal threat, KDB has established himself as one of the elite players in Germany.
Karim Bellarabi: His name will forever be edged in history as he scored the fastest ever goal in the Bundesliga against Dortmund at the start of the season. But Bellarabi is much more than that. He is one of the fastest and most dynamic attacking players in the league and also a full German international based on his form this season. His cuts inside from the right win are reminiscent of Arjen Robben and his ability to change games has been instrumental for Leverkusen this season.
Arjen Robben: What more can you say about a player who has scored more goals in the league than have been scored against his team combined when he was on the pitch? Robben is unstoppable on form and in 2014 he has been in the form of his life. The Dutch winger has also been asked to play a more central role by Guardiola this season and done very well in it. Still, his sheer attacking power and pace on the counter allow Bayern to dominate games and switch between keeping the ball and attacking in lightning flashes.
Alexander Meier: Mr. Eintracht Frankfurt. The Bundesliga’s top goalscorer this season with 13 goals. Somehow, some way, Alexander Meier keeps on going. The 31-year-old has spent a decade with the club and been a loyal servant throughout. Under former Werder Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf, Frankfurt have become one of the most entertaining attacking teams with Meier very much at the forefront of scoring. He has scored 7 goals in his last 6 league matches and more than not, those goals have also been crucial in getting the club points.
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting: The biggest surprise of the campaign so far. Choupo-Moting has always been a reliable player for his teams but this has been a true breakout for the German-born Cameroon international. Finally in the spotlight of a big club playing in the Champions League, Choupo-Moting has relished the step up and been Schalke’s most consistent and best performer. With 9 goals and 5 assists, he helped steady a shaky ship at the start to a team back fighting for a Champions League spot.
Yann Sommer, Loris Karius, Ron-Robert Zieler, Roman Bürki, Paul Verhaegh, Benedikt Höwedes, Sokratis, Baba, Rafinha, Atsuto Uchida, Martin Stranzl, Kevin Wimmer, David Alaba, Niklas Süle, Uwe Hünemeier, Eugen Polanski, Granit Xhaka, Halil Altintop, Ivan Perisic, Kevin Volland, Mario Götze, Shinji Okazaki, Haris Seferovic, Anthony Ujah, Max Kruse, Robert Lewandowski
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